Puerto Rico's "control" board meets January 28 as the island's financial crisis deepens. In a January 18 letter, the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico noted that the island can likely only afford to pay approximately 20% of the debt payments it owes over the next three years. Congress created the board as part of legislation last summer to address the US territory's $70 billion debt crisis.
"The board recognizes that Puerto Rico needs significant debt relief to rebuild its economy," noted Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious development coalition Jubilee USA. LeCompte testified at the board's November meeting. "If negotiations with creditors fail to achieve a significant debt reduction, the board needs to authorize the court arbitrated bankruptcy process."
The legislation Congress passed, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, or "PROMESA," created a Congressional task force to examine changes to US law that could benefit Puerto Rico. The task force released a report in December recommending changes to tax and health care laws to benefit the US territory. Congress has yet to advance legislation that includes those recommended changes.
"Congress has a lot on its plate right now, but it must not forget Puerto Rico," stated LeCompte. "Millions of American citizens in Puerto Rico are waiting for Washington to do its part to end this crisis."